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Axe swings as PC Charter takes hold at TVNZ

Axe swings as PC Charter takes hold at TVNZ

"It's ironic that in the same week that state-television employs a highly paid Maori advisor, front-line staff are being given their marching orders," says National Party Broadcasting spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"The current affairs staff being made redundant today will consider it a slap in the face that TVNZ's new 'kaihautu' is reported to be earning more than $180,000 a year - at least three times more than a mid-grade reporter.

"It's indicative of an increasingly PC environment at TVNZ, where the Prime Minister's own media trainer and her former Alliance buddies get their own shows.

"In September 2000 Marian Hobbs claimed the Charter would 'ensure that TVNZ's editorial and creative independence is protected from political interference'.

"That's laughable in light of what's been happening at TVNZ recently," says Mrs Rich.

"It would seem TVNZ's impartiality has been compromised before the Charter's fully taken hold.

"I accept that the recently appointed head of news and current affairs needs to be free to make changes, but there are many unanswered questions about why the cuts have been so savage," Mrs Rich says.

"It's claimed the Charter, World Cup Rugby rights and Government demands for a dividend are behind the cut-backs, which have now claimed the well respected Assignment programme as their first victim.

"The frustration at Government meddling in TVNZ is best illustrated by the number of top staff who've left over the past couple of years," says Mrs Rich.

"It's hard to see how these cuts fit together with the Charter's stated objective to 'provide independent comprehensive, impartial and in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs in New Zealand'.

"The Government must abandon this social engineering by stealth, before the Charter does more damage to what was once the state-owned jewel in the Government's Crown," Mrs Rich says.

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